Happy 25th to Let It Be (With High On Stress)

One of the overriding themes of this blog is the fact that, quite frankly, I’m getting on a bit. Yeah, sure, I’m not quite reading Q or Mojo yet, but I’ll be 40 in a few years and that mid-life crisis is going to start gnawing at my toes soon. If I start doing posts about my knees hurting or how I’m going to go out and buy me a Porsche, then you know it’s hit me right between the eyes.

In the interim I shall just do posts like these, in which I bemoan the fact that a great alt-rock record was released 25 years ago. 25 years! Sheesh, blimey, and so on.

Smoking Popes

But this one is a bit special to me, mainly because I only discovered it earlier in the year. During one of my jaunts through the Pitchfork 500, one song in particular jumped out, dragged me into a mosh pit, drank my beer and tried to get off with my missus. Yep, “I Will Dare” is that kind of song. So, of course, I went off and bought the extended version of “Let It Be”, and being something of a fan of The Hold Steady and the like, I’ve been rather enjoying it.

And it seems like I’m not the only one who’s still loving the record. Out in The Replacement’s home town, Minneapolis, there’s what looks like a top night celebrating the anniversary at First Avenue. Featuring a ton of bands, pick of the bunch being High On Stress.

Stress Live

Like their heroes, they’ve got that gift of mixing guitars, bass, drum and vocals, and turning out great tunes with that special magic touch. What is it with Minneapolis and great rock bands? Is it in the water or something? Anyway, here’s a video of them playing live with The Replacement’s own Slim Dunlap:

Here’s “Eyeliner Blues” from High On Stress and a couple of beauts from “Let It Be”, including a great cover of “20th Century Boy” from the expanded version. And if you live around Minneapolis, why not pop down to First Avenue next Friday night (27th November)? I would, but I’m off to The Gun.


MP3: Eyeliner Blues by High On Stress

MP3: Sixteen Blue by The Replacements

MP3: 20th Century Boy by The Replacements

Buy “Let It Be” (Extended Version MP3/CD)

Buy “Cop Light Parade” by High On Stress

Inappropriate Songs (Part 312 of an ongoing series)

In case you haven’t already heard, Morrissey collapsed onstage during a show in Swindon last night. Here’s been unwell this year – having to cancel shows due to illness – and he’s currently in hospital under observation. Let’s hope that whatever he is suffering from is treated quickly and that he gets better soon. For all his faults, he is an amazing lyricist and one of the most original and influential musicians of the last 30 years. He’s given me countless hours of solace and joy, made me laugh and cry (sometimes at the same time) and generally made this world a much finer place to be in.



So, as a get well soon tribute, I looked in my iTunes to see what I could post. And the first song I thought about posting was “Still Ill”.


Then I thought, right, a much more chirpy number will be better. “Cemetry Gates”?

Oh dear, this really won’t do.


I really need to get a grasp of myself here.

So eventually I’m settling on two of his greatest songs, one from their greatest album which deftly defines my issues this morning, and one “Ask”, probably the last excellent Smiths song, which neatly encompasses everything that is great and wonderful about their music – that line “Spending warm summer days indoors” says pretty much all you need to know about him, and The Smiths. I love spending warm summer days indoors, me, much to the chagrin of Mrs Loftandlost.

I’ve not been so enamoured of his solo work, but occasionally one pops up and smacks me in the gob, so to speak. Unfortunately the last one to do that is called “First Of The Gang To Die”.

Oh, sod it. He’d only laugh.

Get well soon, Moz.

MP3: Bigmouth Strikes Again by The Smiths

MP3: Ask by The Smiths

MP3: First Of The Gang To Die [Live] by Morrissey

Buy “The Queen Is Dead” (CD) (What do you mean, you don’t have this?)

Buy “Louder Than Bombs” (CD) (Just for Ask, really)

Buy “You Are The Quarry” (CD/MP3)

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Brix Trax

I’ve been resisting the temptation to write about the Pavement reunion. Resisted until now, at least, because whilst them playing shows in Austin or New York or Lamar, Nebraska is kind of interesting in a “Pavement reforming and not doing any shows in the UK? Well, that’s nice” way, they’ve just announced a show at Brixton Academy on May 11th, 2010, which is rather more interesting for me.

Some Pavement, Yesterday

Some Pavement, Yesterday

But serious, one show?

Look chaps, when The Pixies reformed they did four shows there and they sold out at around 1 Planck Time. So, come on boys, pull your fingers out and do some more shows, eh?


Another Pavement

Another Pavement

But it will be fun to see them live again. I only saw them once, at a Reading Festival when they had a power cut on stage and had to spend 10 minutes goofing around. Not that they had any trouble doing that, mind you. A great, great band, managing to be shambolic and musical and lyrical in quite a way no-one else has matched. Except The Fall, of course.

Anyhow, tickets go on sale on Friday from the usual moneygrabbing shysters ticket agencies. Good luck!

MP3: Cut Your Hair by Pavement (Live at the Brixton Academy 1999)

MP3: Spit On A Stranger by Pavement (Live at the Brixton Academy 1999)

MP3: Rattled By The Rush by Pavement (Live at Brixton Academy 1999)

Update: Apparently they’ve added another show on the 12th May. Hurrah!

Buy “Slanted and Enchanted (Luxe & Reduxe 2CD Edition)”

Buy “Crooked Rain Crooked Rain [Special Edition]”

A Sad Hello From Sarasota

Holidays are great. Holidays in nice houses surrounded by lovely greenery in a nice, friendly town by the sea with great beaches, restaurants and shopping are even better. Sarasota is a marvelous place, and I’m sure I’d enjoy it even more if I was about, oooh, 78.

But we had some bad news the other day. Wandering into Sarasota News and Books, we saw the sign on the door stating that they would be closing their doors on August 31st. This was, to put it mildly, a real shock. Every time we came to Sarasota (this is the fourth time in three years), we’d always come to this great bookshop, and I’d always buy a few books1. There was a good selection, a nice cafe, and the staff were friendly and kind and let our errant son run around causing chaos. What’s more, it always seemed busy; people were always buying something or other, or sipping latte’s in the cafe, and it had the feel of a shop at the centre of its community.

So it’s a terrible shame that the owners can no longer afford to keep it running. It was the heart of a Main Street that’s so rare in modern America – with cafes, independent shops, and only a few random tramps sleeping on the elegant benches. This was one of the shops that kept Main Street alive, and I can see the whole street is going to struggle now. If a great, popular shop like this can’t stay in business, what about that little t-shirt shop? The antiques shops?

I’m lucky that I live in a huge city with such diverse bookshops as the labyrinthine Foyles, the superb John Sandoe, the elegant LRB Bookshop, and the dependable Daunt Books. And this is why I feel so sad that a great shop like Sarasota News and Books is closing, because in a small city like Sarasota – famed for its culture – there’s only Circle Books in St Armands Circle, or the chainstore monoliths of Borders and Barnes And Noble (not that I have anything against chains per se – Waterstones, back in the day, was marvellous, and some stores are still excellent).

Anyway, Creative Loafing has a personal take from MC Coolidge on the closure.

Well, I was going to post “Myopic Books” by American Music Club, but as I don’t have that with me, you’ll have to do with “Cornerstone” from the new Arctic Monkeys album, which I’ve been rather enjoying. Not exactly a one-trick pony this lot, are they?

MP3: Cornerstone by Arctic Monkeys

1 I only brought a couple of books with me on holiday specifically so I could get a few more from this place. That’s how much I loved it. Sniff.

Buy Arctic Monkey’s “Humbug” (CD/MP3)

More Live Shows – Pixies and Flaming Lips

“The Server is busy. Please try again later”
“We are currently experiencing excessive demand. Please hit refresh in 30 seconds”
“You are being held in a queue. Please do not navigate away from this screen or you will lose your place in the queue”
“Our servers are currently busy dealing with our friends the ticket touts, who get extra-special priority purchases so they can then re-sell the tickets back through our re-sale partners at five times the face value, so we make money twice. Bonus!”

Ah, the joys of buying tickets online. Last Friday at 9am, tickets for Flaming Lips and more importantly, The Pixies Playing Doolittle went on sale, as well as a bunch of other bands. Why do promoters decide to all release tickets at the same time, so you end up spending half an hour a sweaty, nervous wreck trying to get tickets to see two of the most exciting, thrilling, revolutionary and downright fantastic bands of the last few decades? One put on a live show filled with the spectacle of the lead singer in a huge inflatable rubber ball, fireworks, people dressed as animals, all sorts of stuff; and the other are a spectacle just because they are there.

For seeing The Pixies live is still a huge event. They turned up in the late ’80’s, blew us away, then self-immolated amongst rancour and confusion. I only saw them live for a few songs back in 1990 at the Reading Festival, before the girl I was seeing at the time had to be rushed back to London as she’d eaten some dodgy food earlier in the day. “I’ll take you to see them next time they tour” she said. They never came back. *sniff* Thanks Charlotte.

So seeing them, live at the Brixton Academy on their first reunion tour was as close to a religious experience as I’ll probably ever get. And I’d reckon that most of the 30- to 40- something crowd would agree. There was a five or six song section where they went through their Spanish numbers, and it was furious and frenetic and damned angry, and probably the best live experience I’ve ever had.

Going back to the Brixton Academy to see them play one of the best albums ever is just the bestest thing ever, if you ask me. Which you haven’t, but as you’re here reading this, I guess you’ve got some interest in them too. Am I right, or what?

And then it’s The Flaming Lips. Another fantastic band, if not quite as influential. But also capable of being utterly transcendent live. I’ve seen them before too, and having had the pleasure of meeting the band (in Dallas airport of all places), I can happily say that they are gentlemen of the highest order, and Wayne Coyne is like the best mad uncle you never had.

There are all sorts of YouTube videos of them doing their stuff live, so it’s hard to pick just one. Here’s a good one from the crowd that shows a little of what they are like:

Please, please go and watch loads more, and if you haven’t seen them live, do. And if you have, go and see them again. Oh here’s another one.

So here’s two songs. First off is Mr Grieves, because it’s just so representative of what The Pixies do best. About four styles of song, hugely ominous lyrics “You can cry, you can mope/But can you swing from a good rope?”, and the fact it’s sheer brilliance. And not bloody Monkey goes to Bloody Heaven.

And secondly, Flaming Lips’s “Do You Realize???” really shouldn’t need any introduction. We played it at our wedding, you know. Wonderful song, wonderful band.

MP3: Mr. Grieves by The Pixies

MP3: Do You Realize??? by Flaming Lips

Buy “Doolittle”. Buy it. Buy it. BUY IT!!!

Buy Flaming Lips “Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots” (CD)

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New Mew News, and no new Sufjan news

Mew have released another song from their long-awaited CD, “This title goes on and on and doesn’t make much sense/no matter how many times you read it/and you just can’t shorten it/and isn’t the cover horrid?”. And another stormer it is too. “Repeaterbeater” again shows off their prog-rock chops mixed with their ruthless way with a tune. Sure am looking forward to hearing the album in its entirety. “No More Stories” (the album) is out on 26th August. Bit of a wait then.

But, though “Repeaterbeater” is on the new album, it’s also on their new “No More Stories” EP, released on Tuesday 30th June on iTunes, the track list is as follows:

1. Introducing Palace Players
2. Repeaterbeater
3. Owl
4. Start
5. Swimmer’s Chant

I’ve provided the Amazon link below, but frankly I’m not sure it’s going to work.

Thanks to Cause = Time for the tip.

Jonas And Tele

Jonas And Tele

Mew are playing live at London’s ICA on Thursday 16th July but thanks to choosing a far too small venue, it sold out faster than you can say their new album title (about 3 days, as it turns out). Please move to a bigger venue, chaps. I’ve been telling Mrs Loftandlost for years that the show she missed due to being heavily pregnant was one of the best I’ve ever seen, and I think she’s going to take a brick to my head if I say it again.

And as the title says, I don’t have any Sufjan Stevens news. I’m just posting “Come On! Feel The Illinoise!” because it’s such a damned fine song. The second half, with its refrain of “Even in his heart the Devil has to know the water level\Are you writing from the heart?\Are you writing from the heart?”, is heartmeltingly fine. At his best, no-one can touch Sufjan for the sheer audacity of the music and the stunning gorgeousness of his lyrics. Let’s hope that when he does finally get round to releasing something that’s not Christmas songs, that it touches the heights of this song. I must say, I listened to this last night and the tears welled up in my eyes. I’m such a softy.

MP3: Repeaterbeater by Mew

MP3: Come On! Feel The Illinoise! by Sufjan Stevens

Buy “No More Stories Ep” (MP3)

Buy Sufjan Stevens “Illinoise” (CD)

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Steven Wells was one of the voices of my teenage years. A frustrating, infuriating, cajoling voice maybe, but also a fiercely intelligent one, never afraid to speak out against anything or anyone. Swells, as everyone called him, was openly gay in a world still not comfortable with homosexuality, and he never failed to let you know about it. In fact he never failed to raise his voice about anything. And whilst that could sometimes make him rather irritating, it also meant he said things that no-one else was saying – and often he was right.

Cheer up mate.

Cheer up mate.

What you got with Swells was honesty and integrity. You didn’t necessarily agree with everything he said – and you knew he was sometimes saying things just to wind people up (usually he’d say so) – but you knew it was coming from a real person, with real thoughts inside his rather mad head. I’ll miss him. I’m posting Husker Du’s “New Day Rising” in his honour, because I think it would annoy and enthral him in equal measure. I can see him up in the clouds, little angel wings on his back, shouting “PROPER ROCK made by A PROPER GAY MAN!”.

(Steven Wells died of pancreatic cancer on Tuesday 23rd June 2009).

Oh aye, and some other fella passed away too.

The world’s awash with tributes right now. All I’ll say is what I said a few months back – he was hugely talented, and hugely wasted. Rest in peace, old chap.

And Farrah Fawcett too? Bloody hell.

MP3: New Day Rising by Husker Du

MP3: Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough by Michael Jackson

Buy “Thriller” (CD)

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Mew and Passion Pit

Last time I saw Mew live, they came on stage and immediately started playing the most cacophonous sound you’ve ever heard. Disjointed, loud, messed-up, it didn’t bode well. But suddenly, you could start to hear a melody coming through all the noise and it all made sense; this gorgeous music just erupted, with Jonas Bjerre’s angelic falsetto over the top. Most bands can go from tune to noise, no-one can go the other way like Mew. I’ve even done a little equation:

N -> T > T -> N

where N = Noise and T = Tune

And so it goes with this new track, just released a day or so ago. Called “Introducing Palace Players” (these crazy Danes) from their new album “No more stories…” (I’m not going into that one now), it does that whole noise to tune thang rather superbly. Plus, it’s a kind of New-Order-Timbaland-Prince-MGMT-Girls-Aloud type song. I really don’t know how to describe it.

(MP3 thanks to Data Sapiens)

What In God's Name Is That???

What In God's Name Is That???

And on another note, I feel I’m too old to like Passion Pit, but who cares when they make tunes like this?

MP3: Introducing Palace Players by Mew (a repost as the tags were messed up before)

MP3: Make Light by Passion Pit

Buy Mew’s “And the Glass Handed Kites” (CD)

Buy Passion Pit’s “Manners” (MP3)

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News – Wye Oak, And Stuff

Well, after nearly five months of being out of work I started a new job last week. It came somewhat out of the blue, but is hugely welcome and has more than a touch of irony about it, given that I worked at the same firm until just over a year ago. Which means I’ll have much less time to write this blog, so there won’t be so many updates here as of now. I’ll be concentrating more on the Pitchfork stuff, and I’ll still do some reviews and news, but with less time to search the web for new and interesting music, I need to focus on what I can do, and what I enjoy doing.

One of the bands I only heard because I was doing this blog was Wye Oak. They’ve got a new album out in June and the first track to see the light of day is “Take It In”. Not quite as immediate as the best of their last album “If Children…”, it’s nevertheless a cracking song and I fully expect it to take on earworm status over the next week.

The other nice thing about being back in work is that I can buy CD’s more. I’ve already bought Bill Callahan’s new CD, along with Super Furry Animals, so hope to have reviews of them posted in the coming weeks. Oh, and the new Kingsbury Manx should be coming through the letterbox all the way from the States soon, which I am very much looking forward to. See, RIAA, people do still buy CD’s. Remember: treat your customers well and they will treat you well.

That’s that for today. Hopefully I’ll have the next Pitchfork 500 post done and dusted in the next couple of days. In the meantime enjoy the new Wye Oak track, below:

MP3: Take It In by Wye Oak

Buy Wye Oak’s “If Children” (CD)

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News – An Evening with Lanegan and Dulli, The Twilight Sad

Mark Lanegan and Greg Dulli, who recently recorded as The Gutter Twins, are doing another one-off show in London at the South Bank Centre. Having managed to miss the show at the Union Chapel, I must say I’m rather thrilled at this. I’ve seen Mark Lanegan play live many times, mostly with Queens Of The Stone Age, but also on his “Bubblegum” tour, and if you haven’t seen this man’s stage technique, you haven’t lived. Fundamentally it consists of leaning on his microphone stand glaring ominously at the crowd, whilst singing in the most nicotine- and whisky-stained voice you could possibly imagine.

Put it this way, if you’ve lived a bad life, and you’re lying on your deathbed, this is the voice of Death as he comes to take you down to the bowels of Hell. He’s a scary, scary man. Greg Dulli, he of the drugs and sex obsessions, is a primary school teacher in comparison. Saying that, they’re both, in real life, lovely fellas (I have it on good authority), but they don’t exactly suffer fools gladly.

So, live show at London’s South Bank Centre (Royal Festival Hall) on 19th July. Book tickets here, and many thanks for Andy for the tip. What a gent!

Courtesy of Mundo Eleven, I’ve posted a couple of live tracks from a show in Milan back in 2003 (look down). Both are from his covers LP, “I’ll Take Care Of You”, which is absolutely marvellous (and I promise to review properly at some point in the future).

As for the Gutter Twins themselves:

Now, if you said that they sound like a mix of prime Afghan Whigs with Mark Lanegan singing, I’d say, yeah, damn right, and what the hell is wrong with that, fool?

Excellent Artwork...

Excellent Artwork...

Book those tickets. You know you want to. Funnily enough, Emmy The Great are playing the same night in another of the halls. That should make for an interesting crossover of fans.

Another tune that’s been on my mind recently is The Twilight Sad’s “Cold Days From The Birdhouse”. I recently described it to someone as The Proclaimers meets Mogwai, which is possibly a bit unfair, but this is a cracking number. There’s something about that talking slowly over a barrage of noise that’s very appealing, shared by both Lanegan and Twilight Sad.

More Excellent Artwork...

More Excellent Artwork...

The Twilight Sad are currently on tour with Mogwai in the US with a new album lined up some time later this year. If they’ve built on 2007’s Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, we’re in for a treat.

That’s that for a few days, as we’re off to the West Country to drink scrumpy and wander round disused railway lines. Ok, possibly not the scrumpy bit. Enjoy your Easter.

MP3: On Jesus Program (Live In Milan 2003) by Mark Lanegan

MP3: I’ll Take Care Of You (Live Milan 2003) by Mark Lanegan

MP3: Idle Hands by The Gutter Twins

MP3: Cold Days From The Birdhouse by The Twilight Sad

Buy The Gutter Twins “Saturnalia” (MP3)

Buy Mark Lanegan’s “I’ll Take Care of You” (CD)

Buy The Twilight Sad’s “Fourteen Autumns & Fifteen Winters” (CD/MP3)

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